Pre-College

Earn three college credits at our summer program for high school students dreaming of art and design school.

About

Experience art and design school

A San Francisco summer program for high school students

Current high school students who will complete their sophomore, junior, or senior year by summer are eligible to apply for CCA Pre-College, a summer program designed to help young creatives develop their skills and experience what it’s like to attend college in our supportive, inspiring community.

At CCA we believe creativity must be nurtured to grow an individual’s ability to respond to collective challenges. Creative people serve their communities as catalysts of change and interpreters of their time, transforming the ordinary into the profound. Pre-College is the start of that journey.

Pre-College students will have the opportunity to:

  • Earn three college credits
  • Learn from expert faculty instructors
  • Develop art and design portfolio pieces for college applications
  • Meet other art-minded makers and designers
  • Live on campus in San Francisco

Available on campus or online

Pre-College students may apply for on-campus or online studio courses. Our in-person students have the option to live on campus in our residential hall or commute to and from campus daily. Our online courses deliver studio-level instruction and experiences. Both international and domestic students are eligible to register for our in-person and online courses. Tuition scholarships are available.

On-Campus CCA Pre-College

  • Residential student: July 8-August 2 — Total tuition, fees, meal plan, and housing is ~$6,971
  • Commuter student: July 8-August 2 — Total tuition, fees, and lunch meal plan is ~$4,605

Online CCA Pre-College

  • June 24-July 26 — Total tuition and fees is ~$3,995

Programs & Courses

Immersive study for local and global learners

Scenes from CCA’s Pre-College program.

Receive college-level instruction in a subject of your choice

Pre-College is an in-depth, immersive experience. Students select one subject area to focus on during the course of the summer, earning three college credits and portfolio-ready work at the end of the program. Class experiences blend discussion, instruction, and extensive hands-on practice. Students attending Pre-College in-person also visit San Francisco galleries, museums, and professional studios to deepen their exploration and connect with a wider art and design community.

Learn from dedicated professionals

CCA's Pre-College instructors are highly accomplished artists, architects, designers, and writers committed to sharing their professional insights and experiences with the next generation of creative practitioners. Most teach at the college level, including in CCA’s degree programs.

Explore in-person and online Pre-College studios

Animation

Learn essential techniques of character animation, experimental motion, and cinema through individual projects and group exercises. Class time is spent evaluating animated sequences from classic cartoons as well as independent and experimental films. Students gain technical skills in storytelling, squash and stretch distortion, staging, timing, exaggeration, and many other animation fundamentals. Read full course description.

Animation (ONLINE)

Explore 2D and 3D animation using a combination of Adobe Creative Suite, ProCreate, and Autodesk Sketchbook for 2D work and Maya for 3D. Students gain basic usage and terminology skills of traditional animation, practicing 2D-hand drawn methods either on paper or digitally using Sketchbook. Read full course description.

Architecture

Explore architecture as a 2D and 3D spatial discipline through sketching, drafting, and model building. Daily lecture and discussion sessions examine the history and theory behind current and traditional ideas of architectural space. Students also have the opportunity to explore the architectural landscape of the city. Read full course description.

Comics

Explore page layouts, character design, story outlining, and visual art techniques while creating original work. Students will learn the basics of publishing, including how to write pitches, self-publishing techniques, and comics history. Lectures focus on editorial, literary, and underground comics and cover personal narrative, comics journalism, fiction (long and short form), and nonlinear comics. Read full course description.

Fashion Design

Delve into the entire creative fashion design process, from design development to pattern-making and sewing. Students create a portfolio and sewn garments based on their own designs, using a wide variety of illustration and construction tools. Fashion industry professionals will visit to address topics such as sustainable fashion and life as a fashion designer. Read full course description.

Film

Learn conceptual and technical fundamentals of filmmaking while using digital cameras, lighting, sound recorders, scriptwriting tools, and Adobe Premiere. Students engage in screenings, critiques, and research to inform individual and collaborative projects while taking advantage of CCA's digital classroom facilities, production stage, and editing suites. Read full course description.

Game Arts

Explore theories of play and the structure of games, learn game design methodologies, and practice within the games development pipeline. Students create and playtest original works of digital game art and design, and are introduced to the game engine Unity to develop technical game design skills.

Graphic Design

Learn the fundamentals of graphic design, while emphasizing both creativity and craft. Students integrate photography, drawing, and various experimental processes into their projects and learn the basics of Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign). The class includes engaging lectures, video presentations, group critiques, and a field trip. Read full course description.

Illustration & Drawing

Explore issues of line, shape, texture, pattern, composition, value, realism, abstraction, content, context, point of view, and the frame. Students experiment with a range of media, including charcoal, graphite, Conté crayon, sumi brush, ink wash, and oil stick. Visits to San Francisco galleries and museums enhance the studio experience. Read full course description.

Industrial Design

Learn and apply fundamentals of the industrial design process: defining needs, sketching product ideas, making physical models, and creating working prototypes that communicate concepts with power, grace, and confidence. Students will also experience a field trip to a cutting-edge professional design firm in San Francisco, such as Lunar. Read full course description.

Interaction Design

Interaction designers build meaningful and innovative experiences in all realms of work, lifestyle, and play. This introductory course will take a studio-based, collaborative, playful approach to learning about the interaction design field of building creative solutions for everyday problems. Read full course description.

Interior Design

Delve into elements of light, color, texture, and scale, as well as the relationships between human behavior and the built environment. Students learn a variety of techniques to prepare engaging and effective design presentations through research, observation, drawing, and 3D models, as well as visual and verbal presentation skills. Field trips supplement the studio class experience, including a private tour of interior design showrooms at the San Francisco Design Center. Read full course description.

Jewelry Making & Metal Arts

Learn how to work with metal, torches, hand tools, and light machinery to make your ideas tangible.

Students will explore techniques for transforming sheets of metal into original works of art and develop a conceptual base to inform their aesthetics while learning the craft of metalsmithing. Specialized techniques such as sawing, texturing, forming, soldering, and finishing allow students to make sculptural objects and sophisticated pieces of jewelry. Read full course description.

Painting & Drawing

Learn the formal aspects of painting, from organizing the picture plane to mixing colors. Students explore new concepts and techniques for drawing by practicing gesture, proportional accuracy, perspective, contour, and position in space as they draw from the figure and natural and human-made objects. Media include charcoal, graphite, Conté crayon, sumi brush, ink wash, and oil stick. Visits to San Francisco galleries and museums enhance the studio experience. Read full course description.

Photography

Explore analog, alternative process, and digital photography while learning technical and aesthetic aspects of the discipline, from creating darkroom photograms to manipulating images in Photoshop. Students create a portfolio of images in a variety of mediums and a set of small handmade magazines. Read full course description.

Sculpture & Textiles

During this all-day studio program, experiment with a variety of sculptural materials (woodworking, mold making, casting, wirework, and site-specific installation) and textile techniques (felting, stitching, netting, crocheting, dyeing, fabric printing, and weaving). Field trips to San Francisco's dynamic public art scene and museums enhance the studio investigations. Read full course description.

How to Apply

Applications open in September

Apply to Pre-College

Pre-College applications are open September 15 through February 19 and submitted on CCA App, our online application portal. For full details, read Apply to Pre-College.

Apply for Pre-College scholarships

Need-based scholarships and a limited number of highly competitive merit scholarships are available. Scholarship applications are open September 15 through February 19 and submitted on SlideRoom. For full details, read CCA Pre-College Scholarships.

Support & FAQs

Attend a top summer program for high school students

Contact us anytime

We believe creativity is a lifelong experience that expands the potential of communities and individuals alike. How can we help you find your creative voice through art and design? Email [email protected].